Re: Programming style
- To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
- Subject: [mg47608] Re: Programming style
- From: "Mark Westwood [EPCC]" <markw at epcc.ed.ac.uk>
- Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2004 04:15:04 -0400 (EDT)
- Organization: Edinburgh University
- References: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com
Here's my five-pennyworth, I expect that many others in this newsgroup
will chip in with their own strongly-held, entirely reasonable and
mutually contradictory opinions:
Yes, it is worth the effort to learn the Mathematica way of doing
things, the 'functional' method as you put it, just as it is worth the
effort to learn the object-oriented way when learning Java or Smalltalk
etc. Their are two reasons for making the effort:
1) equivalent programs written in the functional style and the
procedural style usually execute faster, in Mathematica, in the
2) functional programs are often shorter, easier to write and easier to
understand than procedural programs - once you have enough experience of
Mathematica that is;
3) writing functional-style programs is much more natural in Mathematica
than writing procedural programs; when I try to write procedural
programs in Mathematica I always feel that I am fighting against the
system rather than with it.
(OK, so that make's three reasons ...)
In my second paragraph I place the word functional in quotation marks, I
won't be surprised to read other answers to your enquiry which deny
that Mathematica is a functional language - pure functional languages
don't do assignment for instance. I think it's functional enough to be
considered a functional language. But you should also make some effort
to get your head around the concept of Mathematica as a term rewriting
system, transforming expressions in one form into an equivalent (usually
If the book you have is the one by Nancy Blachman then stick with it. I
think it is the best introductory text for general purpose Mathematica.
Once you've finished with it you will be ready to digest The
Mathematica Book itself.
lorenzo.keegan at handbag.com wrote:
> I am an experienced computer programmer having used ADA, C, Visual Basic
> etc. for years.
> Recently I bought the book "Mathematica - A Practical Approach", where different
> styles of programming are discussed, namely
> Functional programming versus Procedural programming.
> The book seems to suggest that most Scientist and "professional" Mathematica
> users prefer the Functional programming approach.
> For years I have been working with the "Procedural" method.
> What are your feelings ? Is it worth the effort to learn the Functional
> method ? Does it matter ?
> Thanks for your time
> Best Wishes
> Laurence Keegan
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